NS provides a safe environment where passengers and employees feel comfortable. We do so in collaboration with the government, other carriers, the police and other organisations. In addition, we make sure to keep our properties, trains and buildings clean, intact and safe, which helps to promote a sense of personal safety.
To make sure that people feel safe in the proximity of others we have taken a range of measures, including supervision, visible and invisible security staff, removing hangouts from view and targeted information via public announcements to promote personal safety. We have installed cameras and deployed Safety & Service staff and private security guards at stations where passengers feel unsafe and where crime and nuisance were a reality. Due to the low passenger numbers at the beginning of the year, the presence of tramps, loitering youths etc. was more conspicuous than usual. Passengers sent 2,548 WhatsApp or text messages via 06-13181318 to report an unsafe atmosphere or nuisance in NS trains. This represents 10% of the total number of such reports received by the NS control centre. In 2021 we also increasingly noticed that not all passengers were complying with the COVID-19 measures, such as wearing a face mask. We will continue to request compliance, even though it occasionally results in aggression on the part of the passenger. During large-scale events such as the Dutch Grand Prix, we took crowd control measures to streamline passenger flows and manage the associated risks.
Protecting properties and resources
NS aims to ensure that properties and premises are well protected against damage, vandalism and unauthorised access. NS collaborates with the police in the fight against graffiti. Trains in shunting yards are particularly vulnerable to graffiti. Various new techniques are being tested at these locations to detect the culprits, such as detectors and sensors that register where and when they access the site and are able to detect the sound and odour of the spray cans. This has already brought down the graffiti surface area to an average of 700 m2 per day, which is around 30% less than in 2020.
Since December 2019, the immediate threat as determined by the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV) has remained significant: a terrorist attack is conceivable. In addition to terrorism, extreme violence resulting from other motives (extremism, psychiatric disorders or organised crime) is another increasing risk. In 2021 there have been no major incidents within NS; however, now that passenger numbers are recovering, we have also registered an increase in the number of disruptions due to suspicious situations. The opportunities for more large-scale operational drills were limited in 2021 due to the COVID-19 measures. NS focused in particular on efforts to secure the lessons learnt from incidents and drills in the past.
Incidents involving aggression
Incidents involving aggression have a considerable impact on the people who witness them. That is why NS encourages staff to report all such incidents. In all, 744 incidents of category A aggression (the most serious type) against staff were reported in the past year – 12.6% more than in 2020 (661). The incidents involved some form of threat (277), and physical violence was recorded in 191 incidents. There were also cases of aggressive resistance (125), spitting (124), threatening with a weapon (25) and indecent assault (2). It appears that the increase in the number of incidents is associated with the growth in passenger numbers and the indirect consequences of the COVID-19 measures. In 71 incidents of category A, the direct cause was a passenger being asked to observe a COVID-19 measure (2020: 83 incidents).
The number of category A incidents involving aggression on our trains increased: from 197 in 2020 to 243 in 2021 (+23%). The number of incidents in this category at the stations increased by 7.6% (to 461, compared with 496 in 2021). Of our uniformed staff, 755 were involved in some form of physical aggression (2020: 714).
The number of cases involving injury increased by 8.8%: in 2021, 186 injuries as a result of aggression against staff were recorded (2020: 171). These were mostly minor injuries (87%). In 172 cases, this involved uniformed NS staff (2020: 162), of whom 123 were Safety & Service staff (2020: 119).